|You can see us sweating! It was seriously hot.|
Three weeks later, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
|Days after John got his diagnosis, being comforted by The Best Cat in the World, Dinner.|
About 18 months later, Maddie and Riley were born.
|Mads on the left, Riley on the right.|
And ten months after that, John died.
|Last pic of John with the twins, three days before he died|
Now, I'm 47.
|NOT A TEENAGER|
And the twins are 13.
And today would be John's and my 15th wedding anniversary. Only he's dead, so it's not, but that's always felt a little weird to me because it's not like we chose that ending, or did something to undo being married. I mean, obvs, I can't be married to a dead person! Creepy! But I do feel cheated out of 13 years of not being married when it wasn't my choice to be done with that.
Most people I interact with day to day never met John. That's been true for years now, ever since I moved back to Portland. I have probably even blogged about that, but hot damn, it's been so long since I blogged that I just don't remember. The kids and I talk about him; they are at an age where they are really aware of not having a dad, and want to know more about him, know how they are or aren't like him. They miss what they have never had; I miss what I briefly had but didn't get to keep.
I've been thinking about coming back to blogging for a while now. I dated someone for a long time who did not like being mentioned on the blog, and I respected his wishes, which meant that I mostly didn't blog during our relationship because it was such a big part of my life that I couldn't figure out how to make that work. In retrospect, our very different approach to public/private life was likely a harbinger that despite both of us being wonderful people, we were not destined to choose a life partnership. But it ended up taking us five years to figure that out, and by then, I didn't know how to come back to this.
Over the intervening years, quite a few people have reached out to me, so empathize, sympathize, ask for advice. To all of you: I'M SORRY. I didn't reply. I . . . I . . . I needed that time away, I think. I needed a bunch of years where I put the widow part of my identity aside so that I could figure out who I am in the wake of years of all-consuming grief. During those years, it was just too much to feel all of those feelings that people had when they would reach out to me after finding themselves facing a similar situation to what John and I faced in 2004. So I'm sorry for being selfish, at a time when I understand just how much you needed to know that someone else gets it, and that you can and will survive.
I've recently had occasion to think about the grief of not getting to have something, of the conundrum of the wrenching, wretched realness being cheated out of something you wanted and even felt like you DESERVED. This summer I was blindsided by something happening that brought all of that up to the surface for me, with an intensity that took me down crying for days. Truly, I was crying all day, every day, for days. I didn't even know I could do that. It sucked. Dumb grief that never, ever ends.
But all of those tears, once they passed, I found that they had opened me back up to a big range of feelings at the opposite end of the spectrum: happy, curious feelings that I also hadn't felt with such intensity in years. This coexisting of things that seem like they can't both be true at the same time, yeah. That is something that this stage of my life seems to be full of, which is confusing and beautiful.
I'm going to try being back here, to share the beautiful confusion, fifteen years later and counting.